304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Zero exercise is not enough. Going for a walk every day is probably a good thing. And if you’re training for a marathon, you’ll be on your feet for a couple hours of hard workouts every week. But what is the benchmark for a human being just trying to squeeze enough healthy exercise into their life? Let’s break it down.
Fortunately, all the major public health organizations are in agreement. The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association are all on board with the following guidelines for aerobic exercise:
If you’re a stroll-around-the-neighborhood person, go with the first recommendation. If you enjoy hard workouts, but would rather not change into your gym clothes every day, you can just go with the 75 minute recommendation. And feel free to mix and match. Here are some possibilities:
If you’re confused about what counts in each category, the UK’s National Health Service has a list of “moderate” and “vigorous” activities here.
If you’re pretty athletic, the above won’t sound like much. Good news! The WHO has set a secondary goal for folks like you. It’s simple: just do double the above. So you can aim for 150 minutes per week of vigorous activity:
…or, to meet the requirement with moderate activity, you can stroll for an hour before breakfast each day, the favorite activity of spunky grandmas and grandpas who will probably never die. (To be fair, the recommendations we’re talking about are for people up to age 65.)
So, what about an upper limit? There isn’t one, from a public health point of view. More is better. (And even if you are doing less than the recommendations, anything is better than nothing.) That said, it is possible for you as an individual to do more exercise than your body is ready for. Don’t jump from a life of occasional strolling to a marathon training plan. And if you are on that marathon training plan and you’re feeling worn down, take a break already.
So far we’ve been talking about aerobic exercise, which is the kind where you’re continuously moving (or, perhaps, doing quick work/rest intervals) and your heart rate is up. But there are other important forms of exercise, too. The WHO and other organizations recommend two days per week of “high intensity muscle strengthening activity,” which includes anything where you’re thinking in terms of sets and reps. (Three sets of eight to 10 reps is a good structure to start.)
That activity can be anything that challenges your muscles, and where the 10th rep is a lot harder than the first: lifting weights, or resistance band exercises, or bodyweight exercises like push-ups. So if you run three days per week but have time for more, don’t just fit in extra runs; try adding two days in the weight room instead.
In addition, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends two other kinds of exercise you might otherwise forget:
Both of these can fit into your other workouts. Stretching works well in a cool-down session after your main workout, or some people prefer to put it into a warm-up. If you’re doing functional movements like lunges that challenge your balance and coordination, you’re working on neuromuscular fitness.
from Lifehacker http://bit.ly/2Ilcv4A